X hits on this document





43 / 70

1472 on vellum; let Mr. Robinson Ellis think wistfully of that

treasure.  The notable Count M'Carthy of Toulouse had a wonderful

library of books in membranis, including a book much coveted for its

rarity, oddity, and the beauty of its illustrations, the

"Hypnerotomachia" of Poliphilus (Venice, 1499).  Vellum was the

favourite "vanity" of Junot, Napoleon's general.  For reasons

connected with its manufacture, and best not inquired into, the

Italian vellum enjoyed the greatest reputation for smooth and silky

whiteness.  Dibdin calls "our modern books on vellum little short of

downright wretched."  But the editor of this series could, I think,

show examples that would have made Dibdin change his opinion.

Many comparatively expensive papers, large in format, are used in

choice editions of books.  Whatman papers, Dutch papers, Chinese

papers, and even papier verge, have all their admirers.  The amateur

will soon learn to distinguish these materials.  As to books printed

on coloured paper--green, blue, yellow, rhubarb-coloured, and the

like, they are an offence to the eyes and to the taste.  Yet even

these have their admirers and collectors, and the great Aldus

himself occasionally used azure paper.  Under the head of "large

paper," perhaps "uncut copies" should be mentioned.  Most owners of

books have had the edges of the volumes gilded or marbled by the

binders.  Thus part of the margin is lost, an offence to the eye of

the bibliomaniac, while copies untouched by the binder's shears are

rare, and therefore prized.  The inconvenience of uncut copies is,

that one cannot easily turn over the leaves.  But, in the present

state of the fashion, a really rare uncut Elzevir may be worth

hundreds of pounds, while a cropped example scarcely fetches as many

shillings.  A set of Shakespeare's quartoes, uncut, would be worth

more than a respectable landed estate in Connemara.  For these

reasons the amateur will do well to have new books of price bound

"uncut."  It is always easy to have the leaves pared away; but not

even the fabled fountain at Argos, in which Hera yearly renewed her

maidenhood, could restore margins once clipped away.  So much for

books which are chiefly precious for the quantity and quality of the

material on which they are printed.  Even this rather foolish

weakness of the amateur would not be useless if it made our

publishers more careful to employ a sound clean hand-made paper,

instead of drugged trash, for their more valuable new productions.

Indeed, a taste for hand-made paper is coming in, and is part of the

revolt against the passion for everything machine-made, which ruined

art and handiwork in the years between 1840 and 1870.

The third of M. Brunet's categories of books of prose, includes

livres de luxe, and illustrated literature.  Every Christmas brings

us livres de luxe in plenty, books which are no books, but have gilt

and magenta covers, and great staring illustrations.  These are

regarded as drawing-room ornaments by people who never read.  It is

scarcely necessary to warn the collector against these gaudy baits

of unregulated Christmas generosity.  All ages have not produced

quite such garish livres de luxe as ours.  But, on the whole, a book

brought out merely for the sake of display, is generally a book ill

"got up," and not worth reading.  Moreover, it is generally a folio,

Document info
Document views163
Page views163
Page last viewedTue Dec 06 13:04:51 UTC 2016